For what seems like the umpteenth straight season, coach John Calipari brings in a loaded freshman class with a few questions of "Is this the one that can bring home a championship?" Against Transylvania in Kentucky's opening exhibition game, the freshman talent was aplenty, but the returning veterans showed that cannot be forgotten. A pre-season All-American forward, Terrence Jones was thought to be a top pick in the 2011 Draft early-on last season, cooled off as the year went on and still received enough NBA Draft publicity as a lottery pick to make the jump likely. Shooting guard Doron Lamb showed off his ball-handling and perimeter shooting to earn looks at the end of the first round, but both Jones and Lamb defied, shed their "one and done" label and donned a Kentucky uniform once again. Jones led both teams with game-highs of 22 points and 12 rebounds, while Lamb chipped in with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the floor.
The freshmen were also spectacular in their college debuts. Point guard Marquis Teague, our second-ranked floor general in the upcoming draft class, dished out 9 assists to go along with 14 points (even though he made just 1-of-5 from 3-point range). The long, lean Anthony Davis, competing for the top overall draft spot in the 2012 draft came through with 8 rebounds and 8 blocked shots, but managed to connect on just 2 of his 7 field-goal attempts. His lack of strength will clearly be a problem come the regular-season. The games' two best first-year performers came from Wildcats coming off the bench, not the starters. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was electrifying with his hustle and toughness, scoring 19 points around the rim, collecting 7 defensive boards and garnering 5 assists.